Printable Version
Pronunciation: bê-træk-ê-mai-ah-mê-kee Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass

Meaning: If you want to say "a tempest in a teacup," "a mountain out of a molehill," "making a federal case of it," but utter it in a single word (not necessarily a single breath), batrachomyomachy is the word that does it.

Notes: Appropriately enough, this word is a mountain of a mouthful expressing a mole hill of meaning. If you are brave enough to toss it into a conversation, you might as well know the adjective and agent noun. You may be the first to ever use the adjective: batrachomyomachian [bê-trê-kê-mai-ê-may-ki-ên]. Those who exaggerate the importance of things, are batrachomyomachists [bê-trê-kê-mai-ah-mê-kists]. Honest.

In Play: Disputes over trivia occur far too often: "April Showers is raising another batrachomyomachy over the color of the new drapes in the teachers' lounge." Those willing to wait for you to finish uttering this seven-syllable mouthful may be less common: "I don't understand this whole batrachomyomachy over who gets Mona's parking place now that she's gone."

Word History: This funny if rather long word is a Greek word meaning "The Battle of Frogs and Mice". It is the title of a mock-heroic epic poem about the struggle between frogs and mice by a small pond, described in the same terms as the siege of Troy is described in The Iliad. The Greek word comes from batrachos "frog" + mys "mouse" + machia "fighting", a word related to English might, machine, and magic. Mys is of the same origin as Latin mus, whose diminutive, musculus "a little mouse" ultimately became French muscle, whence it made its way to English. Isn't the thought of little mice running around under your skin comforting? The Romans must have thought so.

Dr. Goodword,

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